- by Christopher Jones
- Published: 19 October 2013
A week after Ausbike in Melbourne, the Sydney Bike and Lifestyle Show has opened its doors and in some ways represents a massive changes, in other areas less so. The biggest change is the move to the Sydney Olympic Park which is a more accessible location from across Sydney and a location with a strong cycling legacy – hard work from local clubs and organisations has enabled the cycling influence in the area to remain, even prosper long after the Sydney Olympic Games finished. The Dome is a modern and brighter expo location and for the first time in three years since the show started, the weather was fantastic.
The second major change is a strong connection with cycling events. This includes a Duathlon, New South Wales state championships, Lidcombe Auburn Cycling Club racing, Hand-Cycling series and the popular Spring Cycle event. These events all form the Festival of Cycling and provide increased opportunity to bring cyclists to the show.
Even before the show launched, the exhibitor list was thin. Ausbike in Melbourne had exactly the same challenge with all of the major exhibitors from the previous year dropping-out. At the Sydney Show visitors will still spot some well known brands however for a bike show, a stronger representation from bicycle brands is expected.
On arrival the show was buzzing, a centrally located “trials bike” demonstration area was drawing crowds while the bike polo and freestyle BMX was virtually invisible. As the day continued the show slowed which had a strange effect of drawing the exhibitors back into the safety of their stands and reducing the visitor and exhibitor interaction. Sunday however is destined to be the big day as it coincides with Spring Cycle. One exhibitor commented that Saturday was just the ‘demo’ – the number of bike stands for the valet bike parking inside the hall, waiting for bikes, indicate that the show is geared up for much more.
A bonus for visitors with bikes who take advantage of the valet parking is they will benefit from the launch of DataDot for bikes. The Australian company have an innovative tagging solution to help trace stolen goods and have relaunched their bike security Datadot in combination with Subaru. Each visitor with a bike can get their bike tagged and added to the Bike Registry which is a database and enables stolen equipment that is recovered by the police to be easily identified and returned to the owner.
In my case, a benefit of these shows is connecting with new people and I had a great chat with Steve from the African Wildlife Safaris Cycling Team, which is based in Melbourne and races in national cycling events across Australia. Steve provides fantastic insights into the racing scene.
The Sydney Bike and Lifestyle Show is an initiative of Cycling Australia and I spoke to Ben Godkin (Cycling Australia) who is responsible for Marketing and Communication about the show and asked about the lifestyle aspect.
We are trying to appeal to a broader audience,” said Godkin. “If you see some of the exhibitors we have here, from a tourism point of view it is not just the hardcore cyclist we are trying to appeal to. This reflects our vision for moving more into the recreational market.
Cycling Australia, well known as a Sports Cycling body, has broadened its interest in cycling into recreational cycling and when Ben Godkin was asked, he provided a vision of the future.
“Over the next 6 – 12 months you will see some changes in this space with the way we are restructuring our membership program.
For 2014 we are trying to make it clear that you can either be a recreational member or a racing member. For $88 you can be a member and have insurance cover.”
Tourism organisations had a strong presence and Tourism New Zealand win the ‘best stand award’ with a typographical construction of New Zealand to represent the cycling opportunities. New Zealand is miles ahead of Australia in funding cycle trails and promotion so this sends a strong signale for those who have not yet discovered our nearest neighbor.
A worthy mention goes to our friends at Cyclogy cycling wear. Cycle Artist Sarina took to a 12 meter canvas and decorated in pure Cycology style. There are already bids for their stand artwork.
A small vintage bike area caught my eye.
The trials bikers was a highlight, high level bike skills is always commands attention.
Courtney was representing BionX ebike conversion kits and in front of the Dome demonstrates one of the newest GRACE ebikes with integrated batter and a rear wheel BionX motor and internal geared hub for the Gate Carbon Belt Drive. These bike are due shortly on Australian shores though this was available for test rides at the show.
Omar Khalifa (ex BNSW CEO) is one of the founding members of the new Australian Cyclists Party and were signing up new members for the political party throughout the day.
By providing a better location and connecting with cycling events such as Spring Cycle, this event has improved. Bike brand representation is however is underwhelming, although it is fair to mention that this is not due to a lack of effort. Perhaps this gives smaller exhibitors a better chance to connect, visitors however will still judge the value they receive by the amount of product on show.
Sunday will be a bigger day however I will close with three suggestions to improve the show:
1. Alternate with Ausbike, a show every two years will increase the opportunities to involve major brands and present a a bigger show for visitors.
2. Work even harder to attract brands to exhibit
3. Exhibitors need to come out of their shells and actively greet and welcome visitors. When the step out of the comfort zone and make the first move starting with a friendly smile – this will pay off because they can connect with more visitors.
The Sydney Bike and Lifestyle Show